HEARING TEST FOR CHILDREN
In the first few years of life hearing is a critical part of a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. Even a mild hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop speech and language and interact with others.
Most children born with hearing impairment can be diagnosed through hearing screening before they leave the hospital. But in some cases, hearing loss may develop later caused by ear infections, virus or other health ailments. It is important to have your child’s hearing evaluated if you suspect signs of hearing loss.
Our audiologists are highly experienced in performing hearing tests for children from as young as 12 months, with most having over 10 years’ experience working with children.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is established according to how much hearing has been lost and which part of the ear is affected. There are many types and degrees of hearing loss. The level of hearing loss is classified as mild, moderate, severe or profound.
There are two main types of hearing impairment: ‘conductive’ and ‘sensorineural’. Having both types is called a ‘mixed loss’.
The most common in children is conductive hearing loss which occurs when something interferes with sound waves travelling through the outer and middle parts of the ear to the inner ear.
It can be caused by a wax blockage, middle ear infection (otitis media), a fluid build-up in the middle ear, or damage to the tiny bones in the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss may be either temporary or permanent.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by a problem in the innermost part of the ear or in the nerve which carries hearing, the ‘auditory nerve’. It can be caused by abnormal inner ear development, a physical injury to the inner ear or damage to the ear caused by illness.
Sensorineural hearing losses are usually permanent. Sometimes the problem with the inner ear also causes problems with balance. For this type of loss, you will be referred to your GP for a referral to an ENT and to a government funded hearing service provider for children with permanent hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Children experiencing hearing problems would not know they are having difficulty with hearing, as to them it becomes the norm. However, the following signs may point to a problem with hearing as your child develops: –
Does not respond to loud sounds or their name being called
Your child does not turn towards the source of a sound
Limited or poor speech
Has difficulty with pronunciation and sounds
Request’s people repeat their words or conversations frequently
Difficulty with learning
Frequently inattentive, especially in a classroom
Listens to digital devices and TV at levels louder than what others require
How Do We Test Children’s Hearing
Hearing tests for children differ from testing an adult. Children’s hearing test can be either a physical test or a response-based test. The audiologist will determine the best method for conducting the hearing test based on the child’s age and ability.
Age-based testing described below is a guidance only.
Middle Ear Function Tests
The most common type of hearing loss children experience is due to a middle ear disorder such as middle ear infection. Tympanometry is a quick test that can assess the function of the middle ear and fluid build-up. All children receive a middle ear test as part of their hearing assessment.
12 months to 3 years
Visual Reinforcement Orientation Audiometry (VROA) is used to assess the hearing of a child aged from 12 months to 3 years. The child is conditioned to turn towards an animated and illuminated puppet when they hear a sound. Again, this test can be performed in free field or under headphones.
Infants under 12 months can have their hearing assessed by observing the infant’s reactions to a variety of noise makers. The infant will startle, pause or look around to certain sounds. However, objective test such as Auditory Brainstem Response Testing and Otoacoustic Emissions are the preferred method for assessing a young infants hearing.
Play Audiometry is used for pre-school children where the child plays a “listening” game. The child places a block in a bucket when a “whistle” is heard.
The whistle responses are used to determine his or her performance under headphones to assess each ear on its own, or with a free field speaker to assess the better ear.
Pure Tone Audiometry under headphone conditions (same as adult hearing test) is used for older children. The child is seated in our soundproof hearing booth (door can be closed or open, depending on child’s preference) with a remote control. Each ear is played a beeping sound as the audiologist moves through the different levels of frequency and decibels. The child presses the button on the remote if they hear a beep.
Results of the test is provided as an audiogram report with the child’s hearing plotted to indicate normal hearing threshold (20db or lower).
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
CAPD is where a child can detect sounds at normal levels but cannot process the sound information accurately. When this occurs in children it can lead to learning difficulties and sometimes behavioural issues.
View Central Auditory Processing Disorder for more information and fees.
Referral for Child Hearing Test
You do not require a referral from your GP or specialist to book an appointment for a hearing test for your child. If you do have a referral, please specify this at time of booking and bring your referral form or letter to the appointment.
$165.00 – Hearing Assessment and Report, payable on the day. Appointment approx 30 minutes.
Medicare: No rebate unless patient has an Chronic Disease Management Plan referral from their GP OR a referral from an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist or Neurologist. You must submit the receipt to Medicare to receive your rebate.
Health Fund: HiCaps is not available for audiology, thus check with your Health Fund to see if you have ‘Audiology’ cover under your policy. Receipt with the clinician’s provider number will be provided to you to claim from your Health Fund.
Monday - Friday, 9.00-5.00pm
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